Sunday, 28 February 2016

Nigardsbreen Glacier – the Frozen Heart of Norway

Glaciers are unique and amazing natural phenomena. They are massive and powerful. When the ice is shining on the sunlight, the radiance seems to illuminate cosmos itself. When you submerge under the snout of a glacier, it feels as if you entered the kingdom of Ice Queen. Rays of sun penetrating through the layers of ice create light-blue magical glow in the cave. 

Nigardsbreen Glacier, Norway

Glaciers are giant flows of pressed snow. These white hats of heights and mountains shape the climate and the landscape on Earth. Snowfalls or thaws, as well as evaporation and wind erosions define the size of a glacier. All the processes carry out simultaneously, and the leading ones determine whether a glacier grows or becomes smaller. 

In Norway, 2600 square km of land are covered with ice. Nigardsbreen is one of fifty arms of the largest mainland glacier in Europe – Jostedalsbreen – and is considered one of the most beautiful Norwegian glaciers. It is older then 2.5 mln. years – it is eternity compared to the life of a human being. In old, prehistoric times, the ice cover of Norway reached 3 km high. 

Jostedalsbreen National Park, Norway

Today many glaciers melt because of the climate change. The Nigardsbreen glacier receded as well. For the last 180 years it lost more than 100 meters of its length. 

If you want to find out more about glaciers, their origins and impact on the Earth climate, flora and fauna, the Norwegian Glacier Museum & Ulltveit-Moe Climate Centre in Fjærland is the ideal place for you! 

Norwegian Glacier Museum & Ulltveit-Moe Climate Centre, Fjærland

You may reach Nigardsbreen by car – take the road along Aurlandsfjorden, then turn Jølster and Olden lakes, and go through the valley of Gloppen. You cannot drive directly to the glacier, but there is a parking nearby. You may leave the car here and go down to the berth from which a boat plies, carrying the tourists up to the snout of Nigardsbreen. You may also reach it on foot, by a rocky slope. Do not forget to take some memorable photos! 

Even in the middle of summer, the temperature on glacier does not rise higher than 5 degrees Celsius above zero – and only in daylight, when the rays of sun warm the nature. In the evening, when the sun dips below the horizon, the wind blows and the temperature falls. As if January returned. 

Glacier Tongue, Nigardsbreen, Norway

That is why do not forget about a warm coat when you go to Nigardsbreen! Running shoes would be ok, but put thick woolen socks on as well. A knitted hat and sunglasses will add the final touch to your suit. 

Going to the glacier without an experience guide may be dangerous. Ice layers are constantly moving, opening new cracks and clefts. Lumps of ice may break away. So, find a guide and prepare to the sights of power and beauty that only wild untamed nature can offer us. 

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